There are serious penalties which can attach as soon as you are pulled over for OUI / drunk driving in Massachusetts.  The first important thing to understand is that there are two separate entities which could sanction you for drunk driving: 1) the Registry of Motor Vehicles, (“RMV”), and 2) the criminal courts.

Many people don’t know this, but by accepting a license to drive in Massachusetts, you have automatically agreed to submit to a Chemical Test or “Breathalyzer” if requested by the police.  Therefore, if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test when pulled over, the Registry of Motor Vehicles immediately suspends your license based solely on your refusal to take the Breathalyzer.

The RMV suspension is in addition to any license suspension levied after a plea or trial in criminal court.  The amount of time for which the RMV suspends your license depends on how many prior OUIs you have.  Note:  If you previously got a “first time offender” disposition under M.G.L. c. 90 s. 24D, a/k/a a “24D” disposition, although it does not count as a conviction from the point of view of the criminal courts, the RMV counts it.

Here is a table outlining the time periods for which the RMV will suspend your license just for refusing the Breathalyzer.  Also note that per Melanie’s Law, in relation to license suspension as a result of criminal penalties, these license suspensions run consecutively, or one after the other; they do not run concurrently, or at the same time.

RMV Sanctions for Refusing Breathalyzer

Prior OUIs                                                                                         Length of RMV License Suspension

None                                                                                                    180 days (Special Sanctions for CDL)
1                                                                                                             3 Years
2                                                                                                             5 years
3+                                                                                                           Lifetime
If you refused a Breathalyzer test you should speak to MacLellan Law Firm immediately to determine if there are any grounds on which you can appeal the RMV suspension of your license.  You only have 15 calendar days to file an appeal with the RMV, so you must act immediately!

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